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April 19, 2015
*Intro* – A man and wife were in the grocery store discussing some expensive tomatoes when a 6.6 earthquake hit.
Cans and bottles crashed to the floor and things were shaking for a few seconds.
When the rolling stopped, they finished shopping and returned home.
But while unpacking things, the man noticed no tomatoes and asked his wife why.
She replied, “God said, NO!”
Everyone wants a message from God, don’t they?
A sign.
Something spectacular.
A shortcut to spirituality.
The desire for the spectacular takes amazing forms.
In addition to the normal claims of faith healing, some have claimed chickens raised from the dead, dollar bills turned into 20’s, appliances “healed”, empty fuel tanks filled supernaturally, demons cast from vending machines, gold fillings appearing magically.
No claim is too bizarre.
And then there are those who claim to have been to heaven and back – or even hell and back.
The desire for the spectacular takes amazing twists.
And amazingly, everyone willing ignores Paul’s warning in II Thess 2:9, “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders.”
Satan can do miracles, too, Beloved.
He can’t keep up with God, but he is not powerless, and those seeking signs and worshiping the spectacular are opening themselves up to way more than they imagine.
No one did more amazing miracles than Jesus, of course.
But they were not effective faith-producers.
The Pharisees suggested He did miracles by Satan’s power.
But the really amazing group are those in v. 16 who, despite what they had just witnessed with their own eyes, “kept seeking from him a sign from heaven.”
Jesus begins to answer that request in v. 29, and He is not amused.
He is not a freak show or a “miracle-on-demand” genie.
He responds, “This generation is an evil generation.
It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”
Jesus considers this whole generation of sign-seekers wicked!
This is not because God never gives signs but they are not the norm, nor are they expected to be.
To seek them for our own gratification is idolatry.
Jesus is teaching the trouble with seeking signs over the sign-giver?
One Sign is Never Enough* – We saw last week this crowd shows this fact.
Having just seen amazing, they immediately insist on another sign – a frequent pattern in Scripture.
God knows, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word – not by miracles.
One miracle always requires another.
The Ultimate Sign Has Already Been Given* – We saw that the sign of Jonah is that his 3 days in the belly of the fish prefigured Jesus’s death and resurrection.
Thus the ultimate sign has already been given.
To reject that is to reject the most that God can ever do.
God’s Word Trumps Signs*
Spiritual blindness was never more evident than in the contrast that Jesus draws in v. 31 between the Queen of Sheba and His own audience!
I Kings 10 tells how the Queen heard of Solomon’s wisdom and came to visit.
Sheba was in SW Arabia, modern Yemen – 1,000 miles distant from Jerusalem.
Yet, she came and asked him many hard questions.
Then I Kings 10:3, “And Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her.” Solomon’s wisdom was from God, of course.
I Kings 4:29-31: “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, 30 so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt.
31 For he was wiser than all other men.”
It wasn’t Solomon’s opinion that this queen was hearing, but God’s Word as even she acknowledges in I Kings 10:9, “Blessed be the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel!
Because the LORD loved Israel forever, he has made you king, that you may execute justice and righteousness.”
She compliments Solomon, but blesses God.
She got it.
One visit and she was in; a believer by Jesus’ own testimony.
The contrast between her faith and Jesus’ audience is staggering.
He pictures them standing together in judgment.
She a pagan idolater; they the chosen people of God.
She had hearsay; they had centuries of God’s written revelation.
She had no invitation; they were invited by Jesus Himself.
She came from the ends of the earth to hear the Word; they had it delivered to their front doorstep.
She saw no miracles; they were inundated for 3 years.
She heard the Word from Solomon, history’s wisest man; they heard the Word from something far greater.
They heard the word from the Word.
She believed; they rejected.
No wonder she “will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them.”
The point of all this is the Word trumps signs.
If you reject the Word, signs will not help you.
Two reasons:
Signs Can Deceive; the Word Can’t*
The desire for the spectacular has led a lot of people down the road to destruction, Beloved.
People assume that if they see a miracle it must be God.
But hear me -- Not all miracles are God’s miracles.
Signs can deceive; the Word never will.
Jesus Himself warns in Mt 24:24, “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”
This is a dire warning, Beloved.
Jesus is saying, “Get hung up on signs and look out.
False prophets galore will do some amazing things and even deceive believers.”
He’s not saying a true believer could lose their salvation.
The elect can’t get un-elect – but they can live a wasted existence, chasing false prophets without discernment just because they do some miracle.
It can happen.
It will happen; it is happening!
In II Thess 2 Paul describes a coming Antichrist who will rule the world briefly.
How does he get his power?
II Thess 2:8, “And then the lawless one (Antichrist) will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.
9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders.”
When I was first learning Greek, this was the first passage I checked out.
I wanted to see if the words used for signs and wonders here were the same as used for the miracles of Christ.
They are.
But His are true; these are false.
His are from God; these are from Satan.
Notice the state of those who follow these signs in v. 11: “They refused to love the truth and so be saved.”
They loved the miracles instead of the truth.
The put experience ahead of the Word and ran on emotion, not truth.
This is what happens to people who get enamored with miracles, Beloved.
Don’t go there.
Notice in v. 12 that God even God gets involved, sending “them a strong delusion.”
Rev 13 gives some detail how this will all play out.
Vv. 1-10 tell of an end-time Beast (Antichrist) who has a mortal wound that he survives either by resurrection or fake resurrection.
He also has a side-kick, a PR expert who manipulates the populace to worship him.
Rev 13:12, “It (the second beast, PR – spin doctor) exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.
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